NZ On Air will support two new drama series and one successful returning drama series, bringing powerful local stories to screens and creating up to 350 jobs on sets.

The Panthers dramatises the founding of the Polynesian Panthers during Robert Muldoon’s rise to power. The Auckland street-gang turned political revolutionaries fought against the racial discrimination sweeping New Zealand in the mid 70’s. It will screen on TVNZ 1.

An action thriller for TVNZ 2, Vegas follows a young, untested leader who wants to free his people from the curse of methamphetamine, but finds he can’t do it on his own. The story is based on the novel Inside The Black Horse, and will be filmed in Rotorua.

Following on from a high-rating first series, One Lane Bridge will return, with more twists and turns as Detective Ariki Davis is exposed to the seductive power of corruption as a cataclysmic chain of events unleashes fierce rivalries in picturesque Queenstown.

NZ On Air Head of Funding Amie Mills says the three dramas commissioned in this round will reflect different communities, and feature diverse New Zealand backdrops.

“As well as producing thrilling and memorable stories for local audiences that are unique to Aotearoa, this funding round was an opportunity to provide a kick start to the production sector after the Covid-19 shutdown. We are fortunate to be among the first in the world to be back up and running,” she continued.

Further opportunities for local drama series will come from the additional $50m committed by the government this month to NZ Film Commission and NZ On Air, for high-end drama series and feature films with local and global audience appeal. The guidelines for this fund will be published later in the year.

Funding details:

Vegas, 6 x 44 mins, Greenstone TV for TVNZ 2, up to $5,680,000 + Platform contribution relief of $336,000*

One Lane Bridge 2, 5 x 44 mins, Great Southern Television for TVNZ 1, up to $5,443,121 + Platform contribution relief of $300,000*.

The Panthers, 6 x 44 mins, Four Knights Film for TVNZ 1, up to $5,500,000 + Platform contribution relief of $336,000*.

*Qualifying platforms are able to access a one-off Covid relief fund that allows the platform contribution to be reduced by 80%. The above figures show how much funding has been accessed by each project.